-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (New York: Basic Books, 1997) p.43.
- “The moods that people diagnosed with chronic depression or eating disorders experience are indistinguishable from those of healthy people—as long as they are in company and doing something that requires concentration. But when they are alone with nothing to do, their minds begin to be occupied by depressing thoughts, and their consciousness becomes entropic. This is also true, to a less pronounced extent, of everyone else.”
- “Without a consistent set of goals, it is difficult to develop a coherent self. It is through the patterned investment of psychic energy provided by goals that one creates order in experience. This order, which manifests itself in predictable actions, emotions, and choices, in time becomes recognizable as more or less a unique ‘self.’”
- “Emotions refer to the internal states of consciousness. Negative emotions like sadness, fear, anxiety, or boredom produce ‘psychic entropy’ in the mind, that is, a state in which we cannot use attention effectively to deal with external tasks, because we need it to restore an inner subjective order. Positive emotions like happiness, strength, or alertness are states of ‘psychic negentropy’ because we don’t need attention to ruminate and feel sorry for ourselves, and psychic energy can flow freely into whatever thought or task we choose to invest it in.”
- “When goals are clear, feedback relevant, and challenges and skills are in balance, attention becomes ordered and fully invested. Because of the total demand on psychic energy, a person in flow is completely focused. There is no space in consciousness for distracting thoughts, irrelevant feelings. Self-consciousness disappears, yet one feels stronger than usual. The sense of time is distorted: hours seem to pass by in minutes. When a person’s entire being is stretched in the full functioning of mind and body, whatever one does becomes worth doing for its own sake; living becomes its own justification. In the harmonious focusing of physical and psychic energy, life finally comes into its own. It is the full involvement of flow, rather than happiness, that makes for excellence in life.”
- “These three main functions—production, maintenance, and leisure—absorb our psychic energy. They provide the information that goes through the mind day after day, from birth to the end of life. Thus, in essence, what our life is consists in experiences related to work, to keeping things we already have from falling apart, and to whatever else we do in our free time. It is within these parameters that life unfolds, and it is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.”